Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials has extended the elk hunting season through Jan. 15, 2022, for holders of certain unfilled, antlerless Elk B licenses that are valid in portions of west-central Montana, in FWP Region 2.
Low elk harvest during the general hunting season, which will end on Sunday, Nov. 28, prompted the seven-week extension in places where elk populations are over objective and elk tend to congregate and cause private land damage over the winter months.
The Elk B license numbers and hunting districts (HDs) for which the season is extended through Jan. 15 are 213-01 (HD 213), 215-02 (HD 215), 262-01 (HD 204) and 291-03 (HD 291). Hunters were awarded one of these special licenses through a drawing earlier this year, and 262-01 was available over the counter prior to the start of the season. No licenses are available for purchase now.
The 262-01 Elk B license already has an extension in HD 260 for archery and HD 262 for rifle until Jan. 15, 2022, per the existing regulations. This season extension allows those with a 262-01 license to hunt on private lands in HD 204 until Jan. 15. HD 261 and 270 are not extended.
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The B licenses are almost exclusively valid on private lands, and in some cases, on adjoining DNRC lands outside the National Forest boundary. DNRC lands within FWP Wildlife Management Areas are specifically closed to the extended elk season. Regulations that governed the use of these Elk B licenses during the general season will continue to be enforced in the extended season. Hunters, landowners and other interested parties are advised to closely review the 2021 Montana Deer, Elk and Antelope Hunting Regulations for specifics.
Because these B licenses are valid primarily on private lands, hunters are reminded to secure permission with landowners. Some Block Management Areas (BMAs) may not be available for the extended season. Check online for updated BMA information before heading out: fwp.mt.gov/BMA.
The decision to extend the elk season for these B license holders was made in accordance with the Administrative Rules of Montana (12.9.1105), which establish criteria that must be met for a season extension and identify the FWP director and local Fish and Wildlife commissioner as the decision-makers. This is the second year in a row for a similar season extension, and again, mild weather was a big factor.
“Relatively mild weather so far this season has prevented hunters from finding and harvesting elk, despite access to private lands in these districts,” said Mike Thompson, FWP Region 2 wildlife manager. “The elk just aren’t in places where hunters can find them yet.”
Elk harvest reported at the hunter check stations near Darby and Bonner in the first four weekends of this year’s big game general season was lower than any reported harvest in recent years.
“We hope that this season extension provides an opportunity for hunters to find more elk, as the winter weather eventually moves in,” Thompson said. “Additional elk harvest should help decrease wildlife damage to private agricultural lands in these areas and bring population numbers closer to objective.”