Self Guided Hunt in Montana

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Torre87

Senior Member
Good morning all,
So, my father-in-law is really wanting to go to Montana to do a self guided hunt (there would be four of us in total). However, none of us have been to the state. I asked if he had a specific location in mind and he said no, and asked me to research where we should go. Since I have access to the wealth of knowledge of you fine folks, I thought I would start here.

So, for you have that self guided in Montana, where do you like, and what has been your experience?
 
DO NOT BUY PREF POINTS IN MONTANA. They always have surplus tags so you are wasting your money. When I say surplus I mean several thousand tags are left over every year. It has been this way for at least the past 5 years. Montana is expensive for a deer license. It is $689. If elk are around it would be better to get the combo elk tag for $900.
 
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Get a preference point if you want to put in for the big game combo which is elk, deer and small game or if you want to put in for the deer combo which is deer and small game. If you want elk combo no need for a preference point. I wouldn’t mess with limited entry/ bonus points. Just get the general tag associated with the elk combo. Google Montana elk HD map- and look for the stuff in the 300 series in the southwest region. That’s where the bulk of the elk and the elk hinting occur. You want to pick a place in the National Forest that offered what elk need which is food water cover. They prefer slopes with northern and north eastern especially exposure during the day. They generally move low over night to feed and water then climb to bedding areas. A lot of the hunting you will see migh tlook like it’s on the top of the world but elk for the most part like 2/3s - 3/4 or so the way up the mountain in rifle season. Find an area on a topo map that offers elk an escape avenue from pressure via a spur / saddle etc to some northern exposure and find the benches 2/3 the way up and the elk will bed there. In the timber.

Don’t hunt within an hour of town.

When you start finding HDs in national forests that you are interested in you can google that HD “Montana elk HD309” and find what Montana fish and fame puts out about success and harvest numbers and hunter effort. Be advised- none look very good... but that shouldn’t matter to you- it doesn’t have any hold over your fate. Find the places you want to go- call the biologist for the area to find out nothing wacky is going on with the herd- ie- they only exist in privte land etc and get in shape.
 
DO NOT BUY PREF POINTS IN MONTANA. They always have surplus tags so you are wasting your money. When I say surplus I mean several thousand tags are left over every year. It has been this way for at least the past 5 years. Montana is expensive for a deer license. It is $689. If elk are around it would be better to get the combo elk tag for $900.


Get a preference point if you want to put in for the big game combo which is elk, deer and small game or if you want to put in for the deer combo which is deer and small game. If you want elk combo no need for a preference point. I wouldn’t mess with limited entry/ bonus points. Just get the general tag associated with the elk combo. Google Montana elk HD map- and look for the stuff in the 300 series in the southwest region. That’s where the bulk of the elk and the elk hinting occur. You want to pick a place in the National Forest that offered what elk need which is food water cover. They prefer slopes with northern and north eastern especially exposure during the day. They generally move low over night to feed and water then climb to bedding areas. A lot of the hunting you will see migh tlook like it’s on the top of the world but elk for the most part like 2/3s - 3/4 or so the way up the mountain in rifle season. Find an area on a topo map that offers elk an escape avenue from pressure via a spur / saddle etc to some northern exposure and find the benches 2/3 the way up and the elk will bed there. In the timber.

Don’t hunt within an hour of town.

When you start finding HDs in national forests that you are interested in you can google that HD “Montana elk HD309” and find what Montana fish and fame puts out about success and harvest numbers and hunter effort. Be advised- none look very good... but that shouldn’t matter to you- it doesn’t have any hold over your fate. Find the places you want to go- call the biologist for the area to find out nothing wacky is going on with the herd- ie- they only exist in privte land etc and get in shape.
So Deer and Elk can be hunted at the same time in Montana?
 
Yes. The general deer and elk season is oct 26- December1(? I think it closes the first maybe later in the week)

The deer combo and big game combo licenses sell out every year in the draw thelast few years. But elk combo sells out after the draw so you can draw it with no points every year still. The big game and deer tags are no longer a guarantee without a preference point though- you can still draw them with o points- like 40-60 percent. I don’t know the odds- Montana isn’t an every year thing for me.
 
I’m sorry your confused buddy. You have 3 options. All of which you will need to apply for (realistically)

Elk- (AKA Elk Combo) which you can draw with 0 preference points. These tags will all sell out- but so far have only sold out after the draw.

Deer- (aka deer combo) which for a few years now sells out in the draw. Meaning you have a 100% chance of drawing the tag with a preference point but only about 60-80% odds of drawing it without the preference point.

Elk and deer. (Aka big game combo) Which is the same situation as the deer tag.

All of those are “general tags” so they are valid during the statewide general season which i Gave the rifle dates for above.

I am suggesting you to leave alone the limited drawing hunts that you can put in for if you draw the general tag as it’s another layer of confusion and honestly- you don’t need a “good tag” because you won’t know the difference. Not to say the general tag is bad. It’s great and allows you more flexibility. I don’t know if your in 912 or not sea trout but if so we could probably grab a beer sometime the next few weeks if so while I’m still down here. I’m not real big on telling guys where to go- I figure if they can’t even do that for themselves they sure as **** cant find kill and pack an elk- but I’m totally down to help you sort out the logistics and help you learn to navigate the system. I hope that doesn’t sound too dickish- it’s just a whole different ballgame than riding the 4 wheeler to the stand and sitting for a couple hours until you have to poop or want breakfast (typically) though you can get more or less that same experience innelk hunting on private land if that seems less daunting.

I just realized you weren’t the OP sea trout but it all holds either way. Colorado is the easiest. Drive out and buy your license and tag when you get there. Everything else is further and more complicated but to me worth it. Though Colorado is ok too
 
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