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MONTANA GENERAL SEASON ELK PRIMER S TA F F A R T I C L E JERROD LILE PROFESSIONAL HUNT ADVISOR HUNTIN’ FOOL CEO H untin’ Fool’s roots go back 21 years when building points for big game species was in its infancy. At that time, getting in on the ground floor resulted in regularly drawing great tags. Unfortunately, point creep over the last two decades continues to force hunters to wait longer and longer between quality draw tags. All of us at Huntin’ Fool believe the investment in points is worth the wait because when great tags are drawn, incredible memories are created. As such, we all live by the Apply, Apply, Apply! philosophy and we encourage our membership to do the same. However, we cannot fathom a fall without hunting every year and we know that our members feel the same way. Furthermore, the vast majority of our hunts will be with easily attainable tags on public land without an outfitter. In light of that, we wanted to provide deeper insight into elk hunting in Montana, one of our favorite elk states, in an effort to aid in your fall planning for the future. Using this article in conjunction with the Montana opportunity section and associated tables should provide a great starting point for planning your next Big Sky adventure. Since 2011, fee and quota changes for non-resident big game elk combination licenses have resulted in surplus Montana elk tags being available up to the opening date of the fall hunt. These easily obtainable tags, thriving elk herds, ample public land, and liberal seasons make Montana a great choice for a regularly planned elk hunt. Almost without exception, these general season tags provide a generous six- week archery season and a five-week any weapon season. With 11 weeks to hunt, there is a good chance that you can figure out some dates to visit the Big Sky country and match wits with the wily wapiti. One thing I can promise is that Montana offers every type of elk habitat and experience an elk hunter could wish for. General season elk can be found at elevations of 10,000+ feet all the way down to less than 3,000 feet in habitat that ranges from dense conifer forests to arid sage grasslands. Montana is the third largest state in the lower 48, so narrowing down your hunt plan can be daunting. The purpose of this article is not to pick out the right mountain for you but to provide a menu of options available in Montana and what to expect from the various regions in terms of the overall experience. As such, I have broken the general season tags into areas where ELK RUBS LIKE THIS KEEP ME COMING BACK TO THE CABINET WILDERNESS AREA IN SPITE OF LOW ELK DENSITIES A CABINET WILDERNESS BULL WITH A GOOD START ON HIS HEADGEAR 8